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Using CINAHL: Advanced Searching

This guide is intended to teach users how to use the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL).

Major Concept


When selected, this option will restrict results to those articles in which your chosen subject is a major focus.

This will REDUCE the number of search results.


Searching for STD using the Major Concept limiter will retrieve 3772 results (as of 01/11)

Wild Card

In CINAHL, a wild card is representated by the #symbol.

To use the # wildcard, enter your search terms, adding the # in places where an alternate spelling may contain an extra character. CINAHL finds all citations of the word that appear with or without the extra character.

For example, type colo#r to find all citations containing color or colour.

Refining Your Results

In CINAHL, you can refine results to Peer Reviewed articles, Research Article, or Full Text availability. You can also limit the publication years and source types, as shown below.



When selected, this option will make your search much more comprehensive and will retrieve all results indexed to that term.

This will EXPAND the number of search results.


Searching for STD using the Explode expander will retrieve 52,520 results (as of 01/11)


In CINAHL, truncation is represented by an asterisk (*).

To use truncation, enter the root of a search term and replace the ending with an *. The database finds all forms of that word.

For example, type nurs* to find nurse, nurses, and nursing, etc